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GMAT Analytical Writing — Testing Procedures and the AWA Screen

Here are the key procedural rules for the GMAT Analytical Writing section (you can review these rules during the pretest computer tutorial, which immediately precedes the timed essay section):

  • You must use the computer keyboard to enter your essay response. (Handwritten responses are not permitted.) Keyboard entries are restricted to American English characters.

  • The CAT system does not allow you to return to the AWA section (Section 1) once you've moved on to Section 2 of the exam.

  • If you've completed your essay before the 30-minute time limit has elapsed, you can proceed immediately to the next section (Section 2) by clicking the EXIT SECTION button at the bottom of the screen.

  • Pencils and scratch paper are provided for making notes and outlines.

Here are the key features of the AWA computer interface:

  • The essay prompt will appear at the top of the screen, and the text you type will appear below the prompt in a separate editing window.

  • An on-screen clock in the upper-left corner indicates the time remaining in the section.

  • The NEXT and CONFIRM ANSWER buttons, located at bottom right, are both disabled because the AWA section consists of only one question.

  • A cursor bar, a vertical line, appears in the response area at the point where you are typing at the moment. (You can move the cursor around your response by using either the arrow keys on the keyboard or by pointing and clicking with the mouse, just as with any word processor.)

  • Unless an essay response is very brief (read: too brief), you'll have to scroll vertically to review your entire essay.